Jenn writes on 2013-11-21:
Today as I look out of the window of the “Villa” (read: toyhauler) upon clear blue and sunny skies, I can’t help but feel forever grateful to Erik and Kaye for offering us a place to stay while we wait for parts to arrive in order to repair my bike. Not to mention, the best mechanical care, that money can’t buy. Having just past our two week anniversary in Kempner, the Villa has taken on a lived-in sort of quality that I suspect is going to take a little longer to pack up than we anticipate, once we are finally ready to hit the road again.
I am slightly saddened to come to the realization that since our parts have finally arrived, including half a used DR650 engine from Oregon (yay!), that our time here is rapidly coming to a close (and at the risk of sounding like a free-loading squatter). I believe that I speak for both Adam and myself when I say that we have gained far more than what we could have ever expected by accepting Erik and Kaye’s offer of accommodations and repair help. I sincerely hope that our new found friendship doesn’t end once we ride over the threshold of their gate and back out on our journey.
While this part of our adventure hasn’t been the most exciting, I have been very much enjoying the down time – including spending my days playing with the three lovely dogs who also live here (as I write this entry I am sitting on the front porch in the sunshine while the dogs nap at my feet), picking up some cooking tips, and achieving high scores by stacking farm animals on Club Pogo, an on-line gaming community that Kaye introduced to me (and which Adam described as my “crack” and Kaye as my “dealer”). Speaking of crack, news footage of “Toronto’s crack smoking mayor” doesn’t stop at the border, and it is both with comical delight and embarrassment that the topic of Rob Ford comes up no less than once a day down here in Kempner.
Our hosts have also been keeping us occupied with day rides on the local roads that are beautifully sculpted through the Texas hill countryside – winding, twisting roads through ranch lands, riverbeds, and hillsides. Our destinations usually end at one of Erik and Kaye’s favourite restaurants where we scarf down some tasty grub before returning to the homestead.
On Sunday, we meandered our way south to Austin under blue skies and sunshine and 29 degree weather (that’s 84 Fahrenheit, for our American friends), for a late lunch/early dinner at the Hula Hut – a Mexican-surf themed mecca prominently nestled on the shores of Lake Austin, decorated with palm trees, surfboards, and a 15 foot high dancing trout leaping out of the water.
Since conjuring up the idea a few days prior, our hosts could only speak of one thing: the Kawakini Stuffed Avocado. My friends, it did not disappoint. This deep-fried little beauty arrived at our table perfectly golden brown, and nestled on a bed of green chilli sauce, drizzled with queso blanco. Technically, in order to prepare, the avocado is peeled and sliced in half, pitted, and stuffed with roasted chicken, green onions, cheese, and chilies. The halves are then reassembled, rolled in panko (Japanese tempura batter crumbs) and deep fried. Taste-wise, it is a masterful, little ball of heavenly goodness, and we are currently working on a way to recreate them at home.
Speaking of food, our hosts are also amazing cooks (which is great since I like to eat!) and we have been invited to eat with them at their table almost every night we have been here; pot roast with all the fixings, sausage & garlic pizza, saucy baby-back ribs with smashed potatoes, steak with bourbon mushrooms, stuffed peppers…(as Adam says, there has been no weight loss since we have been in Texas). Combine this with a common love for beer (Erik is quite the avid home brewer), we have truthfully been spoiled.
While I may be giving the impression that all we have been doing is eating, this isn’t entirely true. Over the past few days, we have also been doing a complete tear-down and reassessment of each item that we packed in our luggage, in an effort to lighten our load. Almost since the moment we left, I have felt that my bike is too heavy and will eventually cause me aggravation and difficulty once we start to explore twistier roads, gravel roads, and remote mountain roads.
It’s an unwritten fact that every motorcycle traveler packs too much stuff with them, and it seems as though we are no exception to this happenstance. So we have culled our clothing down, halved the amount of adapters and power cords that we brought (why does every device need it’s own unique charger?!?! Can’t we get together on this, people?!?!), and packaged it all up with other superfluous items in a large cardboard box to send home.
All in all, I have to say that Texas has been a pleasant surprise. The people that we have met have been warm and friendly, and the support that we have received has been overwhelming. As fotoTex on the Two Wheeled Texans forum quoted to me: “You may leave Texas but Texas never leaves you”. I have no doubt that even after we continue our journey through Mexico and the Americas that this place will always be special to me.